By: Marina Monsisvais
As a Latina who has lived the majority of my life in El Paso, the US/Mexico border has had a profound impact on my identity and experiences. It is a place where cultures merge, and where challenges and opportunities coexist. This Hispanic Heritage Month, it is my intent to celebrate and reflect on the contributions of amazing Latinas in our unique borderland and beyond.
Leadership in Politics: Latinas have broken barriers and achieved significant milestones in politics. In El Paso, we are fortunate to be surrounded by Latinas in leadership positions. As Superintendents-EPISD, San Elizario ISD, and Tornillo ISD—all have women leading them; Judges (I can’t begin to count how many women we have on the bench here), State and local Representatives, and the list goes on and on. Notable figures on the national and international stage such as Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, and our very own Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, have paved the way for increased representation and diversity in government. Their leadership inspires future generations of Latinas to pursue careers in politics and public service.
Entrepreneurship and Business: As a business owner myself, it’s important that I take the time to give props to Latinas in our community that are making a significant impact in our local business community. Women such as Chelsie Evaldi at Chuco Relic who identified a gap in our souvenir market and created very successful shops and social media channels that celebrate El Paso or the first Latina Woman CEO of First Light Credit Union, Margie Salazar, who is at the helm of a financial institution that helps so many in our community advance and thrive. Through my experience at The Stanford Latino Business Action Network, I learned that Latinos are starting and leading businesses at an unprecedented rate, contributing to the economy and job creation of our nation. Did you know that Latino-owned businesses in the United States contribute over $800 billion to the U.S. Economy? Our entrepreneurial spirit and determination are driving innovation and change in our community.
Cultural and Artistic Contributions: Latinas in our community are enriching culture through their contributions to the arts. In El Paso, talented dancer, teacher, advocate and mentor to many, Rosa Guerrero has left quite the legacy while honoring the Mexican tradition of folklorico dance. And let us not forget about Erica Marin, the first Latina to lead our El Paso Museum of History. She’s doing a fantastic job at ensuring that the programming and exhibits at the museum reflect the community it serves.
I could go on and on about the many amazing women we have in our community. Actually, before I close, I think I will shout out some of my friends who are making substantial contributions to El Paso…Here’s to Dr. Andrea Tawney at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, who through her efforts has impacted the university and our community years beyond her tenure; Here’s to Dr. Christina Paz, who through her leadership at Centro San Vicente has provided healthcare for some of the most vulnerable in our community; here’s to Renee Jimenez, who through her architecture firm, MNK Architects, has designed some great buildings for our community (including the recent upgrade of my high school alma matter, Burges High!)…and the list goes on and on!
Now it’s your turn. I’m challenging you to highlight and thank a powerful Latina in your life. As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, it is crucial to acknowledge and honor the remarkable achievements and influence of Latinas in shaping the past, present, and future of our beloved city.